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Your Guide To D/FW Whiskerfish
So much water to cover, so little time to fish! Make the most of your forays for Metroplex catfish by hitting these venues. (July 2007)
Mention the Dallas/Fort Worth area in coffee shops around the country, and the usual images associated with the Metroplex pop up: the Kennedy assassination; pro sports teams -- the Dallas Cowboys, Mavericks, and Stars, and the Texas Rangers; the Texas Motor Speedway; J.R. Ewing and South Fork Ranch; boots, cowboy hats, and blue jeans; and, of course, some of the best barbecue in the world.
But when the subject turns to fishing in and around the Metroplex, I’m betting that most of the chatter centers on the solid largemouth bass fishing. Possibly the striped bass fishing at Lake Texoma will get a mention or two as a second cup of coffee is poured. But the odds are good that catfishing prospects in and around the Metroplex will scarcely have gotten a mention by the time the java pot runs dry.
And that’s a shame, because when it comes to catfishing, the D/FW Metroplex has plenty to brag about.
“A lot of people don’t fish that much for them,” admitted Rafe Brock, a Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Inland Fisheries district supervisor based in Fort Worth. “We have an untapped catfishery in almost all of our lakes.”
Of course, no lake is more famed for big whiskerfish than Lake Texoma, the 89,000-acre reservoir lying less than 80 miles north of downtown Dallas.
Texoma, which has had a reputation over the years for turning out big blue cats, rocked the angling world in January 2004 when Howe angler Cody Mullenix pulled a 121 1/2-pound blue cat from the lake.
At the time, the fish later dubbed “Splash” was an International Game Fish Association world record and went on to wow crowds at the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens. Eventually replaced as the IGFA world record when Illinois angler Tim Pruitt pulled a 124-pound blue cat from the Mississippi River, Splash remains the Texas state record for the species. So don’t be surprised if another state record or world record blue cat is eventually pulled from the deep waters of Lake Texoma.
“Texoma is probably as good as it gets anywhere in the U.S. other than perhaps Santee Cooper in South Carolina,” said TPWD inland fisheries biologist Tom Hungerford, also based out of Fort Worth.
While most truly big blue cats seem to be caught in the winter months, that doesn’t mean you can’t hook up with one in the middle of the summer.
In fact, last summer, while I was fly-fishing for stripers with Flywater Angling Adventures guide Steve Hollensed, I cast a shad-imitating Clouser Minnow fly on a full sinking line into water about 30 feet deep.
About a third of the way back to Hollensed’s Ranger, I felt a mighty jolt, set the hook, watched my rod tip bend double and felt a giant fish surge toward the bottom of the lake. Unfortunately, I’ll never know for sure what the fish was, since it eventually broke me off. But both Hollensed and yours truly are completely convinced that the fish was a giant blue cat that mistook my fly for an easy shad hors d’œuvre.
And who knows? Perhaps it was an IGFA tippet-class world record that broke me off -- at Texoma, you just never know.
But according to Brock, Texoma isn’t the only good blue cat water found in and around the D/FW Metroplex. He says that a number of lakes in the area were stocked with blue cats in the late 1980s and early 1990s, with some of those fish now reaching lofty trophy status.
“It takes a blue cat about 20 years to reach that 65- to 70-pound range,” said Brock. “It is real hard to get a good accurate estimate or to even get in the ballpark, but blues have pretty good growth rates once they get over the minimum length limit of 12 inches. They reach that in two years.”
Brock attributes that growth -- which he says is faster than channel cats -- to the fact that blue cats become fish eaters at an early age.
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